Will superheroes kapow Netflix or will it kick them to the kerb?

Lifestyle

Will superheroes kapow Netflix or will it kick them to the kerb?

The service is facing huge competition, not least from Disney+, but is this just a glitch in its trajectory?

Tara Lachapelle

It’s not what Netflix shareholders wanted to hear: the online video service lost 430,000 subscribers in the US and Canada last quarter as life began to return to normal in that region. But as for the knee-jerk fear that these are signs of Netflix finally beginning to cave to competition? Not even close. 

Shares in the company toggled between gains and losses after a recent earnings report, a reflection of the subscriber base shrinkage in North America and a tepid forecast for the third quarter. After adding an astonishing 37 million subscribers globally last year while the world lived under quarantine, investors are finally understanding what Netflix executives meant when they said pace simply wouldn’t — couldn’t — last. It projects just 3.5 million new users globally in this period, after signing up 1.5 million in the second quarter.

Walt Disney’s presence, full of superheroes and spaceships, looms large in the background as new movies and a hot new series called Loki were added to Disney+. Black Widow, its latest Marvel film, starring Scarlett Johansson, became available for purchase on July 9 on the app alongside its theatrical debut. And in early June, data from Nielsen in the US showed Disney+ had three of the 10 most popular streaming movies, breaking up a ranking that at one time may as well have been a guide of what to watch on Netflix. (HBO Max, which isn’t counted in the Nielsen data, has also been adding new feature films that may be stealing viewers’ time from Netflix, if not their dollars.)..

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